By Michelle Griep
An agent is a handy dandy buddy to have on your side. They come in a variety of flavors and sizes, but here are a few common traits you’ll find in most…
They help you with the sticky icky issues like not getting paid your advance and/or royalty check on time. Agents know the legal aspects of contracts and what to do when strife raises its ugly head in a writer/publisher relationship.
Sweet Networking Skills
They can get your manuscript into publishers that don’t take open submissions. It’s an agent's business to cultivate and maintain connections in the publishing industry. They know where your story will fit the best and bring it to that editor’s attention.
Wheeling and Dealing
They negotiate a higher rate of payback with a publisher that a timid author might not be able to finagle. Writers are generally solitary animals. Agents understand that and go out there into the big, scary world to fight for them.
Friends Like None Other
They hold your hand during the dark times like when you think you might not be able to make a deadline or have just gotten smacked upside the head with a rejection. An agent encourages you when the going gets tough, and trust me, it will.
Sometimes the cartoon bubble of what an agent is and does is skewed. . .
TOP 4 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT LITERARY AGENTS
1. They are expensive.
Read my lips. You don’t have to pay up front for an agent. If you find one that charges you to sign with them, run far and run fast. Most reputable agents are paid a commission when they sell your manuscript for a pre-arranged percentage and require no payments before that sale.
2. They are easier to get than a publisher.
Nope. Not so much. You jump through the same hoops to get an agent as you do a publisher.
3. You don’t need to have an agent.
True. I’m living proof that you can get published without an agent. But (and I’ve always got a big but) your opportunity for snagging a bigger publisher is pretty much squat. It can happen, but that’s rare. A good agent is worth his or her weight in gold…and in this day and age, that’s a hefty amount.
4. They are hard to find.
Not really. Good agents are hard to acquire, but agents in general are not hard to locate. Check out conferences. Even if you can’t afford to attend, you can see who’s lined up to speak and snoop around their websites. Ask writer buddies for recommendations. And by all means, before you even think about querying an agent, polish your work to a fine sheen. When you do find one that looks good, don’t forget to make sure they’re really all that and a bag of chips by visiting Preditors and Editors.
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. Her latest release, A HEART DECEIVED, is available by David C. Cook. You can find her at: www.writerofftheleash.blogspot.com, www.michellegriep.com or on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.